Side-effects of β-blockers assessed using visual analogue scales
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Visual analogue scales were used in a pilot study to compare side-effects in patients receiving antihypertensive drugs either including or excluding β-blockers. Compared with symptom scores for patients receiving antihypertensive medication other than a β-blocker, symptom scores (when combined) for patients receiving a β-blocker were significantly higher for tired legs (p<0.001), cold digits (p<0.005), and vivid dreams (p<0.01). These methods were also applied in a postal survey which was designed to compare the incidence of symptoms in patients receiving different β-blockers with symptoms in subjects receiving no drugs. When compared with symptom scores for subjects receiving no drugs, symptom scores (when combined) for patients receiving β-blockers were significantly higher for tired legs (p<0.001), cold digits (p<0.01), insomnia (p<0.01), and lack of well-being (p<0.01). These two studies were consistent in showing higher symptom scores for tired legs and cold digits in patients receiving β-blockers. However, there were inconsistencies regarding sleep disturbance. Increased dreaming was apparent in the pilot study whereas increased insomnia was apparent from the postal survey. These inconsistencies cannot be explained. No significant differences in side-effects were apparent between different β-blockers.
Key wordsacebutolol atenolol metoprolol oxprenolol propranolol antihypertensive drugs β-blockers cold digits dreaming insomnia
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